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October 15, 2008, 5:54 PM CT

Governments urged to fight global child killer

Governments urged to fight global child killer
Eleven-month-old Cesia Solis Caray from Managua is watched over by her 21-year-old father Lesther Solis. Cesia's lungs have been damaged by pneumonia and tuberculosis. Celia has spent 57 days at the hospital and been on oxygen 24 hours a day for two months.

Credit: Copyright Adrian Brooks 2008
Pneumococcal disease, one of the world's leading causes of death and serious illness (1), must be recognised as an urgent global health issue together with HIV, malaria and TB, say the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pneumococcal Disease Prevention in the Developing World in a report launching at the House of Lords today. Between 700,000 and one million children under the age of five die each year from pneumococcal disease, equivalent to malaria and more than AIDS and tuberculosis (2,3).

These child deaths are a largely preventable tragedy. A vaccine against pneumococcal disease exists and is being used in the UK. The impact of this vaccine has been seen in England and Wales where there has been a 59% reduction of cases of invasive pneumococcal disease among children under the age of two since it was introduced in September 2006 (4). But developing countries, who account for more than 90% of pneumococcal deaths, do not have access to these vaccines. The UK Parliamentarians urge donor and developing countries to continue their commitment to fighting this killer disease through vaccination, strengthening healthcare systems, sustained political will, funding for research and international coordination of efforts.

"We have a responsibility to help reduce the global health problem of pneumococcal disease, which is under-recognised and until recently, has had few dedicated efforts made to tackle it," said Chair of the Group Dr. Des Turner, MP. "The APPG developed this report in response to the urgent need to improve child survival and tackle the devastating impact of pneumococcal disease in the developing world. As we've highlighted, governments and international organisations have a crucial role to play in preventing pneumococcal disease in the developing world, and need to maintain and grow commitments to mobilise the resources needed to fight the disease".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 1, 2008, 8:16 PM CT

HIV drug maraviroc effective for drug-resistant patients

HIV drug maraviroc effective for drug-resistant patients
As a number of as one quarter of HIV patients have drug resistance, limiting their therapy options and raising their risk for AIDS and death. Now, maraviroc, the first of a new class of HIV drugs called CCR5 receptor antagonists, has been shown to be effective over 48 weeks for drug-resistant patients with R5 HIV-1, a variation of the virus found in more than half of HIV-infected patients.

Results of the two Phase 3 multicenter MOTIVATE (Maraviroc Plus Optimized Therapy in Viremic Antiretroviral Treatment Experienced Patients) studies led by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center's Dr. Roy Gulick and reported in the October 2 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) (NEJM) find that the drug, taken with an optimized standard HIV drug regimen, resulted in significantly greater suppression of the virus at 48 weeks, with concurrent increases in immune system T-cell counts, when compared with placebo. Rates of side effects were not different between the maraviroc and placebo groups.

Preliminary results of these studies led to FDA approval of maraviroc in August 2007.

Because it is from a new class of HIV medications known as HIV entry inhibitors, people living with HIV generally will not have resistance to maraviroc because they have not been exposed to any drugs from the class previously. Unlike earlier HIV drugs that target the virus, maraviroc acts on the human T-cell, binding to it in such a way that prevents HIV from binding and subsequently infecting the T-cell.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 29, 2008, 10:19 PM CT

Hepatitis B exposure and pancreatic cancer

Hepatitis B exposure and pancreatic cancer
Manal Hassan, M.D., Ph.D.

Credit: M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

HOUSTON - In a first-of-its-kind finding, scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have discovered that exposure to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) may increase the risk of pancreas cancer.

The study, reported in the Oct. 1 edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also suggests that patients with this lethal form of cancer treated with chemotherapy may face danger of reactivation of their HBV.

Pancreas cancer is diagnosed in 37,000 people in the United States each year, and more than 34,000 people die of the disease annually, as per the American Cancer Society. It is often diagnosed in the late stages and is particularly perplexing because few risk factors are known.

"If this study is validated, it will give us more information about the risk factors of pancreas cancer and possibly even help prevent it in some cases," said lead author Manal Hassan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology.

HBV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are major global health problems, affecting about 2 percent of the population worldwide. In the United States 1.25 million people have chronic HBV, while 3.2 million have chronic HCV. These systemic viruses can harm the body in a variety of ways, including traveling through the bloodstream and damaging tissues throughout the body.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


September 28, 2008, 8:47 PM CT

Deadly rugby virus spreads in sumo wrestlers

Deadly rugby virus spreads in sumo wrestlers
Rugby players may get more than just the ball out of a scrum herpes virus can cause a skin disease called "scrumpox" and it spreads through physical contact. Scientists have studied the spread of the disease among sumo wrestlers in Japan and have discovered that a new strain of the virus could be even more pathogenic, as per an article reported in the recent issue of the Journal of General Virology

"Scrumpox", or herpes gladiatorum, is a skin infection caused by the herpes virus, which can cause coldsores. It is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact so it is common among rugby players and wrestlers. Symptoms can start with a sore throat and swollen glands and the telltale blisters appear on the face, neck, arms or legs. The disease is highly infectious, so players who are infected are often taken out of competition to stop the virus from spreading.

"Researchers in Japan think that a strain of herpes virus called BgKL has replaced the strain BgOL as one of the most common and pathogenic, causing a skin disease in sumo wrestlers," said Dr Kazuo Yanagi from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, Japan. "We wanted to see if this is the case, so we studied the spread of the disease in sumo wrestlers in Tokyo".

The scientists looked at samples taken from 39 wrestlers diagnosed with herpes gladiatorum, who were living in 8 different sumo stables in Tokyo between 1989 and 1994. Tests showed that some of the cases were primary infections, being the first time the wrestlers had been infected. However, in some cases the disease had recurred several times.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 28, 2008, 8:44 PM CT

Existing anti-obesity drugs may be effective against flu, hepatitis and HIV

Existing anti-obesity drugs may be effective against flu, hepatitis and HIV
Flu bug
Viruses dramatically increase cellular metabolism, and existing anti-obesity drugs may represent a new way to block these metabolic changes and inhibit viral infection, as per a research studypublished recently in the journal Nature Biotechnology

Metabolism refers to all the reactions by which living things break down nutrients to produce energy, along with those by which they rebuild broken-down nutrients into complex molecules (e.g. DNA). A significant example is the breakdown of blood sugar (e.g. glucose) and its conversation via chain reactions into adenosine triphosphate, the energy-storing currency of cellular life. As an important offshoot of that process, glucose can also be converted into fatty acids, the lipid building blocks of human hormones and cell membranes. A number of viruses, including influenza, HIV and hepatitis, use those same fatty acids to build instead their viral envelopes, outer coatings that help them penetrate human cells. Going into the study, little was known about the mechanisms through which viruses hijack metabolic building blocks from their cellular hosts, with older techniques providing a limited picture.

In the current study, a team of scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center and Princeton University created a new technique to clarify these mechanisms, and observed that the technique could identify anti-viral therapeutic targets. Scientists combined drug discovery technologies to capture for the first time the exact concentrations and turnover, in other words, the fluxes, of interchangeable molecules within the metabolic chain reactions that convert sugars into fatty acids. The fields of metabolomics and fluxomics have emerged to measure these patterns, and to provide insight into diseases with a metabolic component, from diabetes to infectious diseases to cancer.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 18, 2008, 9:03 PM CT

Work together or face 'disastrous consequences'

Work together or face 'disastrous consequences'
Faced with the prospect of more variable and changing climates increasing Africa's already intolerable disease burden, researchers must begin to reach out to colleagues in other fields and to the people they want to help if they hope to avert an expected "continental disaster," as per leading climate, health, and information technology experts, who met in Nairobi last week.

Climate change will further increase the already high variability of Africa's climate, fostering the emergence, resurgence and spread of infectious diseases. "A warmer world will generally be a sicker world," said Prof. Onesmo ole-MoiYoi, a Tanzania medical, veterinary and vector expert. "We researchers need to adopt a new way of working, one that makes African communities bearing the burden of disease part of the solution rather than part of the problem." The separate fields of human health, animal health, climate, vectors and environment must come together to avert a "continental disaster," as per leading experts who attended the meeting.

Patti Kristjanson of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which hosted the meeting, agreed. "We need to do things differently than we have in the past. The impact of disease will increase if we continue to operate in silos. Our only chance at reducing the impact of deadly diseases in Africa is to increase collaboration across the disciplines of environment and health, and in a way that involves local communities. Failure to do so could lead to disastrous consequences".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 16, 2008, 10:21 PM CT

Colds and flu cut by one-third in vaccinated seniors

Colds and flu cut by one-third in vaccinated seniors
A winter free from colds and flu? Not yet. But a new study offers new evidence that Canada's top cold and flu-fighting product provides significant help. The three-year study showed that trial participants who took COLD-FX were about one-third less likely to get a "Jackson" cold or flu. The very sensitive Jackson scoring method is a well-accepted scientific approach for judging clinical symptoms, which include coughing, sneezing, runny noses and others. COLD-FX is a unique extract of North American ginseng discovered by 25 Canadian scientists. The multi-center study also revealed that COLD-FX gave trial participants added protection on top of the flu shot's benefit.

The multi-centre study confirmed the results of prior clinical trials evaluated by Health Canada, the federal government's regulatory body. One study reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that for trial participants who regularly suffer two colds a year, COLD-FX reduced their chance of getting a second one by 56%. Health Canada approved strong claims for the product last year.

The multi-centre trial involved 780 healthy seniors in four major Canadian cities who took the flu shot just previous to their six-month therapy phase as part of the study. Participants were given either the standard dose of two capsules a day or double the standard dose or a placebo. The study was led by Dr. Gerald Predy, Medical Officer of Health for Alberta Health Services, in collaboration with various leading Canadian researchers. Neither the participants nor the researchers were aware of who was receiving what in this double-blind, placebo controlled trial.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 14, 2008, 10:13 PM CT

Tuberculosis drug shows promise against latent bacteria

Tuberculosis drug shows promise against latent bacteria
Tuberculosis bacilli
A new study has shown that an investigational drug (R207910, currently in clinical trials against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis strains) is quite effective at killing latent bacteria. This revelation suggests that R207910 may lead to improved and shortened therapys for this globally prevalent disease.

Despite numerous therapy advances, tuberculosis (TB) remains a serious disease fueled by co-infection of HIV patients, the rise of drug-resistant strains, and the ability of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to become dormant and linger in the lungs. In fact, one third of the world population is infected, asymptomatically, with latent TB and is at risk of developing active TB disease during their life time.

Anil Koul and his colleagues at Johnson & Johnson tested R207910 on dormant M. tuberculosis in three different laboratory models of latency. R207910 targets a protein (ATP synthase) essential for making cellular energy (ATP) in actively replicating TB. The scientists reasoned that even dormant bacteria, which are essentially physiologically "turned off", still need to produce small quantities of ATP to survive. As such, a block in ATP synthesis might be an Achilles heel for killing dormant bacteria.

This reasoning proved to be correct and R207190 was able to kill dormant bacteria by greater than 95% whereas current drugs like isoniazid had no effect. Surprisingly, they observed that R207910 is slightly more effective in killing dormant bacteria as in comparison to actively replicating ones, a unique spin as all known TB drugs are more effective on replicating bugs. Koul and his colleagues hope to validate these results clinically, and note that ATP synthase should be looked at as a drug target for other persistent bacterial infections.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 11, 2008, 8:28 PM CT

Mad cow disease also caused by genetic mutation

Mad cow disease also caused by genetic mutation
A. Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Credit: Juergen Richt

New findings about the causes of mad cow disease show that sometimes it may be genetic.

"We now know it's also in the genes of cattle," said Juergen A. Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Until several years ago, Richt said, it was thought that the cattle prion disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- also called BSE or mad cow disease -- was a foodborne disease. But his team's new findings suggest that mad cow disease also is caused by a genetic mutation within a gene called Prion Protein Gene. Prion proteins are proteins expressed abundantly in the brain and immune cells of mammals.

The research shows, for the first time, that a 10-year-old cow from Alabama with an atypical form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy had the same type of prion protein gene mutation as found in human patients with the genetic form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also called genetic CJD for short. Besides having a genetic origin, other human forms of prion diseases can be sporadic, as in sporadic CJD, as well as foodborne. That is, they are contracted when people eat products contaminated with mad cow disease. This form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is called variant CJD.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 3, 2008, 6:44 PM CT

Substance found in fruits and vegetables reduces likelihood of the flu

Substance found in fruits and vegetables reduces likelihood of the flu
Mice given quercetin, a naturally occurring substance found in fruits and vegetables, were less likely to contract the flu, as per a research studypublished by The American Physiological Society. The study also observed that stressful exercise increased the susceptibility of mice to the flu, but quercetin canceled out that negative effect.

Quercetin, a close chemical relative of resveratrol, is present in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including red onions, grapes, blueberries, tea, broccoli and red wine. It has been shown to have anti-viral properties in cell culture experiments and some animal studies, but none of these studies has looked specifically at the flu.

The study, "Quercetin reduces susceptibility to influenza infection following stressful exercise," was carried out by J. Mark Davis, E.A. Murphy, J.L. McClellan, and M.D. Carmichael, of the University of South Carolina and J.D. Gangemi of Clemson University. The study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

The study was conducted using mice, but if quercetin provides a similar benefit for humans, it could help endurance athletes, soldiers and others undergoing difficult training regimens, as well as people under psychological stress, as per Davis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have found a genetic marker that may identify individuals at greater risk for life-threatening infection from the West Nile virus. Results of the study are reported in the Nov. 15 print edition of Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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